Signs show support for Brooklyn businesses struggling with rent costs

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WABC) -- Brooklyn residents are using eye-catching signs to support local businesses struggling with rising rents.

Local stores, opened long ago and now sitting on prime real estate, may be forced out of business as their rents suddenly jump 150 percent.

"Emotionally it hurts, because we've been here as a family for over 30 years in the neighborhood," said Jesse Itayim, the owner of a convenience store in Boerum Hill.

Itayim has invested nearly half his life into his family owned store. With the neighborhood rapidly changing - and along with it, real estate prices - his landlord now wants to raise his rent from $4,000 to $10,000 a month.

"You come, in you spend all your effort and time and money to make a living and all of a is impossible because we are a convenience store. We're not a major super market," Itayim said.

It's a hike he calls outrageous and longtime customers are now rallying around the small store.

Members of the community helped come up with eye catching signs that have certainly prompted a lot of conversation. They show everyday items being marked up by more than double to help customers better understand just what the owners here are facing.

"Brooklyn is popular now. People want to be here," said Liz Jimenez, a resident. "But it's really not fair to push out the people who made the neighborhood and built the foundation for everybody who is coming here now and made it what it is."

"They're more than just a deli," said Yvonne Chu, a Brooklyn store owner. "They're much more than a deli. They're like a cornerstone for the neighborhood and they've been here for us through a lot, way before the neighborhood changed."

With the help of these signs and an ongoing petition, Itayim and his family are hoping they'll be able to reach a compromise with their landlord and stay in the storefront that has now become a home in many ways.

"You either support the people who want to stay in the community, or you want to get them out and tomorrow there won't be any community at all," Itayim said.

Itayim's landlord did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
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